China coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates

Coronavirus death toll on mainland China reaches 722, while the number of infections rises to 34,546.

Wuhan, China

A US citizen has become the first foreigner to die from the new coronavirus as the overall death toll rose to 722. 

The 60-year-old died at a hospital in the Chinese city of Wuhan – the epicentre of the outbreak – on February 6, the US embassy said on Saturday.

More people have now died from coronavirus in China than during the 2002-2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak and the total number of infections in the country has reached 34,546.

Two people have died from the virus outside mainland China – one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines – and at least 25 countries have confirmed cases.

Major airlines have suspended flights to and from China and several countries have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan and the wider Hubei province in a bid to stop the spread.

Here are the latest updates:

Saturday, February 8

Evacuation flight leaves Wuhan with more than 200 on board: UK FCO

The UK said that a final evacuation flight from Wuhan had taken off with more than 200 people on board.

The UK’s Foreign Ministry said the chartered civilian aircraft departed at 3:20 local time on Sunday (1920 GMT Saturday), and that the number of passengers included staff who facilitated the flight as well as medics. 

“Alongside British nationals, there are other nationalities on board,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. 

Canada confirms new coronavirus case

Canada has confirmed a seventh case of coronavirus. The new case is the fourth in British Colombia, the Canadian government’s website said, without providing more information.

Three cases have also been recorded in Ontario.

Read more about which countries have confirmed cases here

New Man United signing from China to skip training camp in Spain

Manchester United’s newest signing will not travel to a training camp in Spain during the Premier League’s midseason break because the club fears travel restrictions may prevent him from returning to England.

Odion Ighalo joined United in a deadline-day loan move from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua, with the Nigerian arriving in Manchester last weekend.

“Odion will stay in Manchester because he arrived from China in the last 14 days,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told the club’s in-house TV station, adding that the player will be working with a personal coach while his teammates are in Spain.

Odion Ighalo
Ighalo joined Manchester United from Shanghai Shenhua [File: Sumaya Hisham/Reuters]

Medical supplies in Hubei improved but shortages persist: Provincial government

The vice governor of Hubei province said that the region’s supply of medical goods had improved but could still tighten if the epidemic worsens.

Speaking at an evening press briefing in Wuhan, Cao Guangjing said Hubei’s major providers of protective gear – such as masks and protective suits – had all returned to work on February 7 but some smaller plants had still not fully resumed production.

“The shortage still exists,” but may end if there is a turning point in the crisis, Cao said. “If the numbers keep rising, the tightness will continue and may increase.”

WHO-led coronavirus probe team leaving for China next week

A WHO-led international team investigating the coronavirus outbreak will leave for China on Monday or Tuesday, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a daily press briefing in Geneva.

Singapore confirms new cases

Singapore has confirmed seven more cases of the coronavirus, taking the country’s total number of recorded cases to 40.

Five of the new cases are linked to previously announced cases and include a taxi driver and a private hire car driver, the health ministry said.

Read more about which countries have confirmed cases of the new coroanvirus here.

Volkswagen postpones restart of some China plants

Volkswagen has postponed restarting production at most China plants in its joint venture with SAIC Motor and the Tianjin plant in its JV with FAW Group until February 17. 

One car-manufacturing plant Volkswagen operates with SAIC in Shanghai and most of the plants in the FAW joint venture will restart on February 10, the German auto-maker said in an emailed statement.

Volkswagen said it was facing supply chain challenges as China goes back to work after the extended Lunar New Year holiday, as well as limited travel options for its employees.

France to close two schools near ski resort after cases reported

Two schools near a French ski resort where five Britons were diagnosed with the new coronavirus will be closed next week as authorities try to determine with whom those infected had been in contact, a regional health official said. 

Eleven Britons, including the five who tested positive for the virus, are being examined in local hospitals.

Other countries feel the pinch as Chinese tourists stay home

China is the world’s largest source of tourists but travel bans, suspended flights and government advisories are keeping many would-be tourists from the Chinese mainland at home. 

Regional economies are feeling the effects of losing out on tourist dollars.

Read the full story here and see the impact in numbers here.

Art Basel cancels Hong Kong fair

After weeks of speculation, Art Basel, one of the most prestigious international art fairs, has cancelled its Asia edition in Hong Kong, dealing a blow to the festival that has weathered a tumultuous year in the semi-autonomous territory. 

Organisers called the decision to cancel the show “extremely difficult”.

Read the full story here.

Five Britons contract coronavirus at French ski resort

Five British nationals including a child have been diagnosed with the coronavirus in France after staying in the same ski chalet as a person who had been in Singapore, French health officials said.

The new cases emerged after authorities began to retrace the recent travels of one British citizen confirmed by Britain to have contracted the virus in recent days, senior health official Jerome Salomon told a press briefing. 

Agnes Buzyn, France’s health minister, added that the group of people newly infected with the virus were not in a serious condition. 

Dozens of cases found on board cruise ship

Japan: 3 more virus cases on ship, total now 64

The health ministry of Japan said three new virus cases had been confirmed on the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama, raising the total number on the ship to 64.

The ministry said of the three, two were Americans and one was a Chinese national.

By Saturday, tests had been conducted on a total of 279 passengers and crew members.

Malaysia confirms 16th coronavirus case

The Malaysian health ministry confirmed a 16th case of coronavirus, a 67-year old female and Chinese national from Wuhan.

Deputy Prime Minister Dato Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said at a press briefing that the patient was the mother of a friend of the 14th patient who tested positive for the virus in Malaysia.

Wuhan opens second makeshift hospital to fight virus

Wuhan has opened another makeshift hospital, providing 1,500 beds, state media reported.

The first medical team has arrived at the Leishenshan Hospital in the virus-hit city and patients will be admitted, state-run CCTV reported.

It said the hospital has 32 wards and a surgical operating room.

new hospital in wuhan feb 8
Workers set up medical equipment at the new Leishenshan Hospital, a makeshift hospital for treating patients of the new coronavirus [China Out/Reuters]

Thailand reports 7 new coronavirus cases – health ministry

Thailand’s public health ministry reported seven new cases of the coronavirus, including three Thais and four Chinese.

The new cases brought the total reported in the country to 32, among the world’s highest number of infections outside of China.

“The seven new cases are all in hospital,” said Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Disease Control Department.

One of the Thai cases was part of the group of 138 evacuated from China’s coronavirus epicentre of Wuhan on Tuesday, Suwannachai told reporters.

Has the coronavirus cracked the great firewall of China? – Inside Story

Two more cases of coronavirus detected in UAE, total rises to 7

Two new cases of coronavirus infection have been detected in the United Arab Emirates, bringing the total number of people diagnosed with the disease to seven, the country’s health ministry said on Twitter.

One of the two infected is a Filipino, according to local Philippine media.

Panic buying in Singapore after virus alert raised

Anxious Singapore shoppers formed long lines at grocery stores and cleared the shelves of essential items, after the city-state raised its alert level over China’s coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore, which has reported 33 cases, raised its alert level on Friday to “orange”, the same as during the deadly 2003 SARS outbreak. The alert level indicates that the virus is severe and passes easily between people.

The announcement triggered panic in the city-state of 5.7 million starting late Friday, with shoppers – many wearing masks – rushing to stock up on items including rice, noodles and toilet paper.

singapore store coronavirus
People are stocking up on food supplies in Singapore after the country raised coronavirus outbreak alert level to orange [Edgar Su/Reuters]

US citizen dies of coronavirus in Wuhan; Japanese fatality also suspected of being infected

A US citizen has died from the new coronavirus at the epicentre of the epidemic in China, the US embassy said on Saturday, in what appears to be the first confirmed foreign death from the outbreak.

“We can confirm that a 60-year-old US citizen diagnosed with coronavirus died at a hospital in Wuhan, China, on February 6,” an embassy spokesman told AFP.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Foreign Ministry reported that a Japanese man “suspected of being infected” with the virus has also died in Wuhan, Kyodo News reported.

The man, in his 60s, had been hospitalised with severe pneumonia. He would be the first Japanese victim of the coronavirus outbreak if his infection is confirmed.

Three more coronavirus cases reported on the Diamond Princess cruise ship

Passengers on the cruise ship docked in Japan are facing more woes as government officials reported three more cases of coronavirus infection.

That brings to 64 the total number of infections on the Diamond Princess vessel, which was carrying 3,700 people.  

Cruise ship
The total number of infections on the Diamond Princess vessel is now 64 [Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP]

China adds health expert to provincial committee of Communist Party in Hubei

China has appointed Wang Hesheng as a member of the provincial committee of the Communist Party in Hubei province, state television reported on Saturday.

Wang has served in the public health system for years, making him well-placed to help in the country’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak. 

More planes with quarantined China passengers arrive in US

Hundreds more people evacuated from the Wuhan region of China began arriving on Friday at military bases across the US to begin a two-week quarantine.

There were no signs of illness among those who flew into Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, said Dr Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control’s Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology. She said fewer than 100 people, including babies, will stay at Lackland but did not provide an exact number.

The plane then left Texas and transported people to Omaha, Nebraska, where it landed on Friday night. The passengers will be quarantined at a nearby Nebraska National Guard training base.

A military base in San Diego earlier on Friday received 65 people, who will be quarantined.

Doctor who warned about coronavirus dies

Latest coronavirus study implicates faecal transmission

The digestive tract may be a secondary path of transmission for the novel coronavirus, scientists said following the publication of the latest study reporting patients with abdominal symptoms and loose stools.

The primary path is believed to be virus-laden droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, though researchers in early cases have said they focused heavily on patients with respiratory symptoms and may have overlooked those linked to the digestive tract.

A total of 14 out of 138 patients (10 percent) in a Wuhan hospital who were studied in the new paper by Chinese authors in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) initially presented with diarrhoea and nausea one or two days before developing fever and laboured breathing.

Read updates from Friday, February 7 here.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies